The Way You Talk Is Costing Your Tech Integration Business

How can you demonstrate value to custom integration customers if you don’t properly refer to your tech integration business in the same ways they would?

Tom LeBlanc Leave a Comment
The Way You Talk Is Costing Your Tech Integration Business

©2018 Google

People who work in the tech business tend to talk like people who work in the tech business. That has been true at least as long as I have been in the business of reporting on people who work in the tech integration business.

They use technology terms — often without explaining them — that are unfamiliar to custom integration customers. In my experience, this has been viewed as more of a funny, quirky reality rather than a real problem.

Well, there is evidence that it is indeed a real problem that is likely costing you customers.

What You SHOULD Call Your Tech Integration Services

According to Google Trends, AV terms like “digital signage,” “collaboration technology” and “soundmasking,” don’t resonate with most people as well as alternate terms (like “digital sign,” “video call” and “office sound”) that are more commonly searched for.

The Google Trends information is valuable for technology-oriented companies when they create content for their websites, of course, but it goes way beyond that.

If prospective custom integration customers aren’t searching for “digital signage,” they’re also not speaking the same language as you when you try to sell them “digital signage.”

“That’s our term,” says Jim Nista, senior director of Content Creation Services, Almo Professional A/V. In his role leading digital signage content development teaming with both AV integrators and their customers, he has noticed a detachment between the two viewpoints.

“Digital signage” is a term that AV integrators feel comfortable with, in part, because it describes the hardware that they sell. However, “Very rarely does a customer use that term,” he says. “That’s a tech integration term.”

Customers, Nista adds, are more likely to talk about a “menu board,” a “donor wall” or a “digital bulletin board.” Customers are focused on the effect or impact of technology, not the hardware.

“Technology is a means to an end for them,” Nista says.

Copyright 2018 Google

Valuable Tech Integration Business Resources

Most integrators get this but, again, I don’t think they understand the impact.

There’s the obvious potential impact on sales but, even worse, when a salesperson, company or industry isn’t on the same wavelength as their custom integration customers, they seem less relevant. That’s not good.

That’s why I think Commercial Integrator’s recent Google Trends-based research on the discrepancy between how AV integrators refer to their solutions and the terms that customers actually search for when essentially seeking the same thing is so important.

AV integrators provide invaluable services to their customers. They learn about their customers’ business challenges and custom-design technology solutions for those problems. They stake their reputations on how well those systems perform and deliver return on their customers’ investments.

YES, You NEED to Care About This!

Those attributes are a heck of a lot more valuable to customers than merely being savvy when it comes to using the correct language in web copy and in sales conversations. That’s obvious.

The problem is that by not appreciating how important it is to lean on free resources such as Google Trends and learn to better resonate with customers, you might never get a chance to demonstrate your value.

Look at it this way: it makes better tech integration business sense to demonstrate what you can do than to show off what you know.

We know you’re smart. But so are your custom integration customers. Use appropriate terminology. It’s a simple step than can improve your sales prospects and tighten your connection with customers.

Take this quick quiz to see if what you call your services is the same as what your custom integration customers call them:

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About the Author

Tom LeBlanc

Tom LeBlanc is the executive director of NSCA. Learn more about NSCA and how to become an NSCA member at

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  • lionel felix says:

    I spent years in IT and had to train my own staff to stay away from jargon, buzzwords, acronyms and niche terms. “Talk to them like you’re trying to help them solve their problem and use words that your parents would get if you were telling the story” is how I positioned it. It was often the case where talking to my IT people in other countries how deeply rooted our colloquialisms are in that we will use phrases that Danish, Germans, Indians, Aussies wouldn’t get. Speaking to clients in plain english so that they may understand the picture you’re painting is key because if they feel stupid becuse they dont know jargon they will say no, or maybe but rarely yess unless they’re brave enough to ask you to disambiguate your phraseology 😉

  • Chris Kelly says:

    I have owned my computer business since 1999, however, I have been in the computer field for far longer, and because of something I remember hearing in the opening of a Living Colour song, “Cult of Personality,” it has shaped one key aspect of my business. The words are, “we want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand.” These words spoke to me when I first heard the song many years ago, and I have used these words as a backbone of how I conduct business. I have had talks with clients on a one on one basis and I have had talks with large groups of people, and my message has always been the same, to take the jargon that we as techies like to use and put it in a way that the average person can understand and, more importantly, be able to picture it within their mind.

    As an example, when discussing bandwidth, I will typically use the idea of the roads that we travel every day. The lower the bandwidth or rate, the smaller the road, going from a two lane road to a highway to the interstate. A smaller road can only handle so much traffic before it gets backed up, as where the interstate has more lanes to handle more traffic. This gives the average person an image in their heads that makes sense, as where the technical terminology would perhaps be lost on them, and most often is lost on them. Another comparison I used was one that some of my older female clients appreciated when they had asked me how well a certain antivirus software did at keeping a computer safe, and I said that the software was about as good at protecting your computer as a nylon stocking would be for holding water. Again, a mental image that the customer can relate to and it makes sense to them.

    Many of my clients are from an older generation, including some who served during WWII, so giving them the same explanation as I would to my 15 year old son who was born and raised on the technology would be a waste of time and energy, and, as the article discusses, a potential loss of a client. My son was raised in the digital era, as where many of my clients can remember back to the days of the rotary dial phones and even before that. It also doesn’t hurt to have a bit of a sense of humor about it so that the client is further put at ease and does not feel as though they are not smart enough to understand, it is all just a matter of how you put it and present it. Because once they see things in a different light and perspective, they will engage in the technology instead of being afraid of it, and that is something we all want to achieve for our clients!

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